Stuffed Roasted Hens with Pesto Oil Drizzle
This recipe makes a complete dinner for two: petite Cornish hens are filled with a savory bread stuffing, then roasted atop baby carrots. A drizzle of pesto oil adds the finishing touch.
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
- 1/2 cup diced fennel bulb
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups diced bread cubes (3/4-inch dice), toasted
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 12 oz. baby carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 small fresh rosemary sprigs
- 2 Cornish hens, each about 1 lb.
- Pesto dipping oil for serving
Preheat an oven to 400ºF.
In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until slightly reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Stir in the bread cubes and pine nuts until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Let the stuffing cool to room temperature.
In a bowl, stir together the carrots, 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and the rosemary sprigs, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 3-quart roasting pan and spread out evenly.
Rub each Cornish hen with 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Carefully spoon the stuffing mixture into the cavity of each hen and truss the legs with kitchen twine. Place the hens, breast side up, on top of the carrots.
Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the hens, away from the bone, registers 160°F and the center of the stuffing registers 165ºF, 50 to 60 minutes.
Increase the oven temperature to broil and move an oven rack to the top third of the oven. Place the pan on the top rack and broil until the hens and carrots are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the hens to a small platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Divide the carrots between 2 plates and top each with a hen. Drizzle with pesto dipping oil and serve immediately. Serves 2.